Lands, housing and urban development minister, Judith Nabakooba, has intervened in land disputes in Kyankwanzi district were residents accuse certain individuals of the intent to defraud them of their land.
According to a report authored by one of the local leaders Yibirinsa Patrick and submitted by to the minister in one of the areas she visited, residents accuse Sabiiti Geoffrey and Kintu Grace of attempting to evict them from their land in Lwengo and Kirimbi parishes in Bananywa Sub-county.
“This report is pertaining land conflicts between the community against Sabiiti Geoffrey and Kintu Grace. The matter of concern arises from the ill intentions of Sabiiti and Kintu attempting to survey and evict the residents from their Bibanja in the parishes of Lwengo and Kirimbu where they have lived for more than thirty years,” the report read in part.
Residents alleged that both Kintu and Sabiiti claimed to have acquired leases of the disputed land in 2009 without the community’s knowledge, and that their earlier attempts to lease the same plots of land they had lived on for years were ignored by the district land board.
On the other hand, according to Richard Ruhinda, a senior resident, Sabiiti claimed that he acquired the land title of the disputed land in 1995.
The disputed land includes Block 826 Plot 6 (located in Sinduula village) and another yet to be established plot of land in Kirimbi parish.
While giving an address, Nabakooba assured the residents that the lands ministry would investigate the matter and get to the heart of it.
The minister who was in the area on April 12, commended the leaders for their commitment to serve the people of the area and called on the residents to stay calm and strong until the matter is investigated.
“I heard most of the issues you have raised and I can assure you that the lands ministry will investigate the matter and get to the heart of it. I urge you residents to stay calm and strong. Just know the law protects you and no one can push you off your land without following certain procedures,” she said.
She added: “The Ministry of Lands is going to look into this matter and if we find out that the processes followed by accused to acquire the land were not the right ones, the land titles will be canceled.”
Other affected villages in Kirimbi and Lwengo parishes include: Kilyabisoli, Sinduula, Kasubi, Kachungiro and Kidukulu Ntonzi.
The Member of Parliament (MP) Butemba constituency Kyankwanzi district, Binji Patrick Nyanzi, revealed to the minister that the district land board has for long been part of the problem and was inconsiderate to the residents. He said most land problems in the district have come as a result of impunity of the culprits involved.
“Most of the land problems are facing in Kyankwanzi have come as a result of impunity of the culprits involved. These are people who think that they are untouchable. Sadly, the district land board has for long been part of the problem. They have been inconsiderate to the residents and have in some cases sided with the oppressors,” he said.
Nabakooba also visited Kiryamusunku village in Byerima Sub-county where residents alleged that unknown gun men showed up in 2013 and started to evict people claiming that the land is owned by someone who they said has not identified themselves.
“In 2013, there are gun men who showed up here and started to evict people claiming that the land is owned by a person who has never introduced themselves to us. We have lived on this land a very long period of time. Some of us have been born here and do not know any other place,” Wakangala Wilbreforce, a resident of Kiryamusunku, told this reporter.
He also said the district land board claims the land is owned by someone but failed to identify the person. The disputed land, according to Wakangala, measures five square miles and has more than 2000 homes.
The minister also visited Kyenda parish, Butemba sub-county where a one Tarsis Sebukayire who resident allege is of Burundian origin attempted to evict people in the villages of Kabagaya A, Kabagaya B, Kololo, Kilyamakobe and Lubale.
The villages, according to a report authored by the local leaders, have about 8000 people. It also indicated that the accused purports to have bought an estimated 321 hectares of land in 2016.
While addressing residents of botoh areas (Kyenda parish and Kiryamusunku village), Nabakooba said she has directed her office to find out how the culprits got the land titles (in both Kyenda and Kiryamusunku) and promised that their land titles would be canceled if any fault in how they acquired the land is found.
The district Women Representative, Christine Bukenya, encouraged the residents to be mindful of fraudsters who take advantage of vulnerable people. She also encouraged them to endeavor that their children go to school.